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Difference between cheap & expensive mandarin oranges?

mandarin oranges noob

Noobishly buying mandarin oranges in Malaysia is probably not a good idea


Without my mum around anymore to do the shopping for Chinese New Year, I had to take up the responsibility like a man. And like a man, I am clueless about it. Frankly, neither my dad nor I care much about the festive occasion but I love eating mandarin oranges, and there'll definitely be relatives and friends coming over for a visit so we would have to buy some for display in the living room as well (don't know why but we simply have to, 'cause it's tradition and auspicious symbolism I guess...?). One problem, we have zero experience in purchasing fruits in larger quantities.

And so I went looking for mandarin oranges on my own for the second time in my life. Last year I was told by my mum to go straight to a hypermarket like Giant or Carrefour for low prices. This time I was on an independent mission and I thought I was smart to go to SS2 Durian Street to seek for better deals... before realising that I actually had no idea what I was doing. They're mostly from China, the brands mean nothing to me, sometimes they're priced by weight (KG), and I've no idea the difference between its types (lokam/lukan, honey mandarin/murcott, pong kam/ponkan, kong kam, etc.). It's like how I don't even know the difference between a D24 durian and a Musang King durian. And to make it worse, some price tags say "lokam" but the box says "honey mandarin". As though our road signs weren't confusing enough already.

mandarin orange box

So anyway, I simply went to SS2 Durian Street and just played the "uncle card", pretending that I have a lot of experience in buying mandarin oranges in hopes that nobody would con my ass. I approached the one with the big signage that says "RM7.88 for per box" but apparently, that's only for 10 small size quantities per box. Ah, I should've known.

The guy there asked me if it's for visiting or self-consumption. I answered "home placement" and he recommended a box of 40 large ones for RM60. He gave me a sample for a taste and despite its sourness, I thought that's how higher quality mandarin oranges were supposed to taste like, maybe because he looked really confident with that sample. So I asked for a discount, and he gave me a RM5 off... and I took it, also 'cause I didn't want to seem like a cheapskate. Genius, I don't even know if that was a fair price for whatever type that I just bought. And right after that, I went to a hypermarket and bought another box that costs way lesser, which was what I should've just done in the first place.

For basic comparison between the two boxes I purchased, here's a breakdown and review summary;

RM55.00 for 40 qty. of 'large' mandarin oranges (SS2)
mandarin orange expensive
  • Price per quantity = RM1.38
  • Looks and tastes are more consistent. Although there was a rotten one in the box. I should've checked it myself before paying.
  • The thin and loose skins are easier to peel.
  • The box and wrappings have proper branding and looks more presentable.
  • This is not even close to being one of the most expensive types in the market. The more expensive ones have even nicer packaging (e.g., a box that's shaped like a cute version of the God of Prosperity) and the quality of the fruit itself are probably better as well.

RM15.88 for 28 qty. of 'large' mandarin oranges (hypermarket)
mandarin orange cheap
  • Price per quantity = RM0.57
  • Basically they do look cheaper and inconsistent. Some smaller, some bigger, some deformed, some have lot of seeds.
  • Doesn't taste too bad. Some sweet, some sour. Some flesh are soft and juicy while some are dry and hard. As I said, inconsistent.
  • Casually peeling its thick and tight skins may get your hands all wet and sticky.
  • 'M' and 'S' sizes are even cheaper than this.

Verdict: Unless you want high quality taste and appearance with awesome packaging, just get the cheap ones from hypermarkets. If you're a person like me who could easily finish a box in a day or two, even more reasons to get the cheap ones 'cause they all taste decent enough. If you're getting the more expensive kinds like clementine (usually imported from Europe), make sure you know the current market price for that and of course, open the box up and check them YOURSELF. There might also be rotten or smaller ones hidden in there.

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